Monday, June 06, 2005

The Fantasy Forecast

Cold, damp and cloudy with a strong chance of showers and flash floods. No sign of clearing in sight. Sounds a lot like the current weather in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy fields, doesn't it?

Lately I've been reading lots of posts on blogs and in forums about how difficult it is to get published in Sci-Fi or Fantasy these days. I'm sure that's true and has probably been true for a long while. And just when I'd hoped that the recent success of movies like "Harry Potter" and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy might have done something we novelists have all been trying to do for years--make fantasy cool to the masses. And yet--it might actually be working and we just haven't seen the repercussions in the publishing field yet. A few facts:

1. The new Harry Potter movie is due out soon, as is the new Harry Potter book. That ought to get people thinking in terms of magic and mayhem again.

2. The Lord of the Rings was a supurb effort that not only proved a fantasy epic trilogy could be successful, but that movie directors and producers are willing to make the effort to keep the films true in spirit to the book or series that inspired them. That surely bodes well for the future of fantasy film making.

3. This Christmas, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" opens in theaters, finally in a true film format with a big enough budget and CGI tech to do it justice.

4. And what about:

Fantastic 4 (coming right up!)
Star Wars (just hit a box-office record, didn't it?)
The Incredibles
Pirates of the Carribbean
Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
others I probably missed....

If audiences didn't like sci-fi and fantasy, we'd have known it by now. The gradual increase in fantasy film releases in the past few years would seem to indicate otherwise. There's a built-in audience out there, and sooner or later their presence will be felt by the publishing world. I have foreseen it.... Oh, sorry. Took a walk on the Dark Side for a moment. But it can't be only the Sith who see the future, even if always in motion the future is.

I've also seen the first volumes of several new fantasy trilogies out on shelves in the past few months, some of them sporting plots much less original than many of those I've heard about recently from unpublished writers. Fresh stories with an original look and feel have to come from somewhere. Why not me? Why not us? As a reader, I've stopped buying books whose blurbs sound too much like all the others I've read before. I'm sure that must be true of others as well. Despite all the negative odds and scuttlebutt and rumors and concerns, I still have to believe that if we stick with it and write the stories that tug at our hearts and minds, we will get that coveted contract in the end. Only passion and dedication can carry any writer through the long slog to publication. People don't stick with this profession unless they love it. And if you aren't writing because you love to write, then what's the point? The only people who have ever been published are the ones who didn't quit. Once you've decided not to quit, then it's just a matter of time and patience--the patience to wait out the storm and to know that the rain and clouds can't last forever.

I know, I know, Hail, Polyanna. Oh well. Somebody's got to put on the short skirt and pick up the pompoms. Cheers, be well, keep on writing.

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